Remote Alcohol Monitoring to Facilitate Incentive-Based Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder: A Randomized Trial
Koffarnus, Mikhail N.
Bickel, Warren K.
Kablinger, Anita S.
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B ackground: The delivery of monetary incentives contingent on verified abstinence is an effective treatment for alcohol use disorder. However, technological barriers to accurate, frequent biochemical verification of alcohol abstinence have limited the dissemination of this technique. Methods: In the present randomized parallel trial, we employed a breathalyzer that allows remote, user-verified collection of a breath alcohol sample, text messaging, and reloadable debit cards for remote delivery of incentives to evaluate a contingency management treatment for alcohol use disorder that can be delivered with no in-person contact. Treatment-seeking participants with alcohol use disorder (n = 40) were recruited from the community and randomized to either a contingent or a noncontingent group (n = 20 each). The contingent group received nearly immediate monetary incentives each day they remotely provided negative breathalyzer samples. The noncontingent group received matched monetary payments each day they successfully provided samples independent of alcohol content. Groups were not masked as awareness of group contingencies was an essential intervention component. Results: The primary outcome of the intent-to-treat analyses (analyzed n = 40) was percent days abstinent as measured by the remote breathalyzer samples. Abstinence rates in the contingent group were 85%, which was significantly higher than the 38% recorded in the noncontingent group, corresponding to an odds ratio of 9.4 (95% CI = 4.0 to 22.2). Breathalyzer collection adherence rates were over 95%, and participant ratings of acceptability were also high. Conclusions: These results support the efficacy, acceptability, and feasibility of this remotely deliverable abstinence reinforcement incentive intervention for the initiation and near-term maintenance of abstinence from alcohol in adults with alcohol use disorder. Due to low provider and participant burden, this procedure has the potential for broad dissemination.